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People often think that as a blogger I get hundreds of exciting opportunities, and really nothing could be further from the truth. However on the odd occasion, there’s a little gem that brightens up my email inbox and when I got my invite to visit the Royal Oak that was definitely one of them.

As much as I love working in central London and trying out all the amazing bars and restaurants there, there is something very comforting about friendly neighbourhood pubs. You could live in London all your life (like I have) and not find a place that people will know you in, just because it’s not practical.

The Royal Oak in Twickenham is a newly refurbished gastropub and I was very kindly invited to review a three course meal alongside a selection of beers, ales and wines that would suit the food.

To say I was excited was a complete understatement – loads of food and accompanying wines?! Who wouldn’t be excited?!

The starters and desserts were small dishes so we didn’t have individual dishes, instead there were 4/5 different starters for everyone to share. At first I thought it might be a bit awkward to share food with strangers but actually it was a great idea to get everyone talking and taste 4/5 dishes instead of just one starter.

Well played guys…

The starters were:

– Watercress Risotto, Pea Shoots (V) £7

– Chicken Livers, Smoked Lardon, Sourdough £7

– Charred Cauliflower, Romesco, Quinoa (VG) £7

– Gazpacho, Heritage Tomatoes, Tapenade (V) £6.5

– Hendricks Gin Cured Salmon, Dill, Mustard, Toast £7.8

My favourite dish was definitely the salmon on toast, it was gorgeous and I really liked the hint of mustard running through it as well. My sister really enjoyed the watercress risotto as well, it was very fresh and flavourful.

For the main course, we had already pre-picked our dishes. I chose the roast sea bream with chorizo hash and asparagus and my sister chose the chargrilled lamb that was served with salsa verde and sautéed potatoes. My sister thought the lamb was a tad tough but I couldn’t have loved my fish more. It was just the perfect dish, everything complemented everything and it was the perfect portion size.

The choice of main courses were:

–  Chargrilled Lamb Gigot, Salsa Verde, Sautè Potatoes £15.8

– Dressed Dorset Crab, Saffron Aioli, Fries £17.5

–  10OZ Bone In Sirloin, Peppercorn Sauce, Watercress £25

–  Roast Sea Bream, Chorizo Hash, Asparagus £14.5

– Aubergine, Falafel, Charred Gem, Grilled Pepper £10

– Pork Schnitzel, Fried Duck Egg, Fine Bean, Shallot & Butter Lettuce Salad £13.50

Like I mentioned before, they gave us small plates of desserts and they were insane. All (bar one) priced at £5.50, so you can definitely indulge without feeling guilty – well about the price anyways!

The desserts were:

– Banoffee Pot

– Warm Chocolate & Hazelnut Brownie, Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce

– Amalfi Lemon and Raspberry Posset

– Eton Mess

– Baked Camembert, Garlic, Truffled Honey £9.8

My favourite had to be Banoffee Pot, it was just the most perfect mixture of toffee and bananas and caramel. YUM!

I thought it was so great that they invited the wine merchants and ale and beer suppliers that they use in the pub, because they gave great advice on what wines/beers to have with what food. I asked about a million questions to the wine guy about wine etiquette and now I feel very much prepared to go wine-tasting/drinking – yay!

More than anything I was so happy that I’ve found a nice family gastropub that is not too far from where I live, but also nice enough to chill at during the breezy summer evenings by the river, or on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon. If you are ever in the area of Twickenham/Richmond, you should definitely pop in!

One of my favourite things whilst travelling is learning about the different cultures of countries and cities that I will be spending a few days in.

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The cake counter at Vete Katten – yum!

For most of us a coffee break means to chuck down a takeaway Starbucks whilst catching up on emails and life admin. The Swedish however, are the complete opposite.

Much like London with it’s pub culture and the Spanish with their siestas, Sweden (and a few other Scandi countries) are huge on aconcept called fika. 

Although Fika is translated into a coffee break, usually with pastries / pie / cookies, it is better described as a way of taking a break from a busy day from work or just life, and taking that time to appreciate the smaller things in life and relax with a hot drink, a sweet treat and good company.

Here are a few pictures that I captured on my recent trip to Stockholm, enjoying fika.

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We visisted two gorgeous coffee shops; one of them was in central Stockholm called Vete Katten and that was a more posher place, the decor was stunning and very glass and white walls giving it a fresh clean look. The staff were very friendly, and there was no rushed feeling, you were just made to feel like you could stay there as long as you wanted.

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The second place we visited was a little coffee shop in Sigtuna which is a smaller town near Stockholm (incidentally it was the first ever town of Sweden #funfact). Sigtuna is literally one of my favourite places ever, it has huge houses and little streets to stumble across and it does look a little like they’ve stopped time in 1960’s but that literally just adds to the charm. If you are ever in Stockholm, you should definitely spend a day in Sigtuna because it’s gorgeous.

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The coffee shop in Sigtuna is called Tant Brun and it is so old and charming, it has low ceilings and wooden tables and mismatched chairs. It is actually the oldest cafe in Sigtuna and one of the oldest in the whole of Sweden. There is outdoor seating but it was raining when we visited so we sat inside, the candles were burning  and it was just the cosiest time. If you ever go, you need to have the raspberry pie because it is just the best pie I’ve ever had in my life, no exaggeration! Also the staff wear these adorable little outfits that make them look like they’ve stepped out of an old world, and it’s so good because they make such a lot of effort to retain the charm and feel of the old town.

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Raspberry pie with a latte – like heaven on a plate

Hope you enjoyed this post! Have you ever been to Sweden or tried fika? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Picture taken from Google

If you grew up in the 90’s, you will most likely know about the blonde, original bitmoji creator that is Lizzie McGuire. I thought the TV programme was so fun and then came the movie and I was an absolute goner. I fell straight in love. Not only did I fall in love with the film, I fell in love with city that it was set in: Rome.

I know what you’re thinking; she’s obsessed with Rome! I probably am, I really did leave a piece of heart there. I loved it so much and so the first thing I did when I returned to London was watch this movie.

If you want to know more about my trip to Rome, I wrote two blog posts: a Do’s & Dont’s post which you can read here and a Travel Diary post which you can read here.

It has definitely become a little habit of mine to watch movies that have been set where I’ve just been, and it really is so much fun! You get to point out the places you’ve just seen and reminisce about what you’ve just experienced.

Anyways, here is a fun little post that I put together about some of the things I thought when I re-watched the Lizzie McGuire movie.

Enjoy!

1. Why did matt hate her so much?

Honestly it’s so strange how a brother could dislike his sister that much, maybe it’s because I don’t have brothers but still come on!

2. What kind of obsessive weirdo remembers outfits underneath a grad gown?!

I knew Kate was mean (even though she does good in the end), but she obviously loved Lizzie to remember her outfits!

3. Why would they ask the treasurer to do the speech?

I don’t know… This just never made sense to me.

4. Emosh moment at the airport

That moment when Lizzie’s parents are fussing over her and when her Mum runs back and gives her a huge cuddle. All the emotions!

5. Those cute moments on the plane with Gordo

How fricking adorable were they! I love plane journeys as it is, this just made is 100% cuter.

6. I forgot how sassy lizzie’s alter ego was [lols]

Possibly my favourite thing ever about re-watching this movie was re-discovering how hilarious Lizzie’s alter-ego was.

7. Did I really fancy Paolo?

Hmmm. I really don’t trust my judgement anymore…

8. Ethan giving Gordo a pep talk

Got to be one of the sweetest things. Ethan is just such an entertaining character anyways but this was endearing.

9. Gordo gives himself up for Lizzie

Why was Gordo so flipping adorable?!

10. How did Lizzie’s parents afford the airfare?

From what I remember from the show, Lizzie’s parents were not well off so this always baffled me. And also if I was missing my sister on a school trip, I don’t think my parents would have ever forked out for a plane ticket for me!

11. The Outfit.

Anyone else desperately wanted to have a flowy skirt that magically turned into trousers, whilst owning the stage and having the audience eat out of the palm of your hand? No?

Just me then…

12. The kiss.

*excuse the spoilers*

I think the movie ended perfectly, with Lizzie finding out that Paolo was a d*ck and Gordo is actually a sweetheart, and nothing made me happier than watching them share a sexy little smooch on the balcony.

All together now – ‘Awwww!’

Let me know if this post inspired any of you to watch this movie again, because lets face it – it is an absolute classic.

And this is what dreams are made of. (Sorry not sorry!)

 

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I’ll admit that when AA Skincare wanted to send me one of their shampoo bars, I was the teeniest bit dubious. I have heard of shampoo bars*, and I have heard good things but I was so nervous to try it because I’m so used to liquid shampoo (aren’t we all?), but I’m so glad I gave it a try!

The shampoo bar that I chose out of the 8 (listed below) was called Life Style and it was suited for an itchy, flaky and dry scalp which was perfect for me as I have been suffering from dandruff for a little while now and Head and Shoulders really isn’t working!

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The bars are made of natural ingredients and 100% essential oils. As this is a bar of shampoo, it is meant to last double the amount of time as a liquid shampoo. I was so intrigued about this because for a 50g bar this is pretty impressive!

It’s also really simple to use. All you do is lather it up in your hands and then apply it like you would with your normal shampoo. You can either leave it for 2-3 mins or rinse straightaway.

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I have to admit that I haven’t seen any drastic changes in my dandruff, but then again they haven’t promised anything, and my hair does feel really soft! I also love the fact that you’re not wasting any product either, as sometimes I can be quite heavy-handed.

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You can buy your own from AA Skincare or other stockists in the UK. Also it only costs £5.94, for how long it lasts I think that’s a pretty good deal!

Have you ever used a shampoo bar? What did you think?

*This post contains PR samples, but as always all opinions are my own. Read my disclaimer here for more info

Lifestyle – Lavender Rosemary and ChamomileFor itchy, dry hair.

Botanical BoostFrankincense, Rose and Argan oilFor damaged, coloured hair.

TwilightCinnamon, Clove and PeppermintFor dry hair.

Illuminate BlondeGeranium, Almond and ChamomileFor dry and damaged hair.

Almond Almond Essential OilFor dry dull damaged hair.

Brilliantly BalancedLemon and BergamotFor greasy and oily hair.

Intensely CoconutCoconut OilFor dry and damaged hair.

Zing FreshPeppermint and Coconut For oily, dry and damaged hair.

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Ahhh I’ve been so excited to write this post!

I think anyone reading my blog knows that I love candles. Screw that pretty sure every blogger out there is partial to a candle, and I am definitely no different!

So when I was sent this beautiful candle*, I couldn’t contain my excitement! Not only was I getting a candle but there was a piece of jewellery hidden inside! The actual packaging was so lovely as well, which made opening the candle up even more exciting. The candle comes in a white box with gold swirls and just looks very professional. The clear glass jar is also just as mesmerising, with the gold swirls continuing their theme, making it look very magical.

The company behind the candle are also pretty inspiring, all of their candles are homemade and using natural wax, and reusable jars with cotton wicks. I also liked how they don’t outsource anything: their designs are from a local designer and all of their wax and scents are produced and hand-poured in the UK.

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It’s all surrounding three elements:

Light – Lighting your candle and burn it for 10-15 hours, enjoy the scent before your gold pouch is revealed.

Discover – Snuff out the candle, pull your pouch out with tweezers, wipe it down and let it cool down.

Reveal – Unwrap the gold pouch which will reveal your jewellery surprise and share it online using #flauntyourfind and it may get featured on the website!

I thought this idea was amazing, I really liked the fact that there was something to look forward to whilst burning it. It also didn’t hurt that the candle smelled amazing, it was exactly my kind of scent.

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The only thing I would say is that the candle burns quite quickly, which depending on whether you’re super eager to get your jewellery surprise may not be a bad thing! I have to admit I was very excited to get my hands on my gift but I would have preferred my candle to last a little bit longer personally. However on the flip side of this, the scent is fairly strong and makes your whole room smell gorgeous.

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All of the candles cost £35 and I do think it’s good value for money because there are a lot of candles that cost just as much or even more and that’s not including the piece of jewellery you get!

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My jewellery piece was a charm bead, which was very simply designed and actually I will get a lot of use out of because I have a charm bracelet at home that I barely wear. When you purchase a candle, you can choose what jewellery you want out of a ring or a charm bead which is quite good so you will have some idea of what you will receive.

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If you want to purchase your own: https://www.thecharmingcandle.co/

Thank-you so much to Charming Candle Co for this gift and I hope you enjoyed reading about this gorgeous candle.

Have you ever tried a jewellery candle? What did you think?

*This post contains PR samples, but as always all opinions are my own. Read my disclaimer here for more info